A week or so ago a 47-second song clip from a superhero TV series went to number one on both the Billboard charts and on the Apple streaming charts. It has been streamed over four million times and has become quite the internet sensation (warning - it is a mild spoiler for the series so don't click through if you're planning on watching!)
But the viral success of the song isn't what I want to underline here. Rather that for the last couple of weeks it has been Stuck. In. My. Head.
Yes, it is a classic earworm and no matter what I am doing, or where I am it will sneak up on me and I'll find it going round and round in my brain. To her infinite displeasure I even find myself randomly singing it to my wife. I am sure you have experienced the same with some ditty or other. It can be catching, too - I won't be mean and mention Oompa Loompas, but if I were to I am sure that quite a few of you would be cursing me for the rest of the day - so I won't.
As a meditator earworms are fascinating. They are examples of what psychologists call 'involuntary cognition,' and it is their ubiquity and seeming randomness that makes them so fascinating.
When we meditate we work on first being more aware of the processes that are going on in our mind, and then on having better control of what takes up our 'mental real-estate.' We do this by first learning to observe, then accept, then by choosing to cultivate the healthy processes - those that spring from love, compassion, joy and equanimity. In many traditions this is called Mind Training, and is central to how we meditate.
So while an earworm may seem benign - or infuriating - it is still something we can work with. When those Oompa Loompas appear, even (especially) if you are sitting on the cushion, you can choose to observe it, work with it. That is part of our training.
I have linked below a fully guided meditation on Mind Training. A few of us have committed to press 'play' together at 7pm PT on Sunday March 7th. You are welcome to join us if you wish, or of course to incorporate it into you practice in any way you like.